The Spirit Catches You and You Fall
Due October 26 50 pts
Although I enjoyed and gained new knowledge about the Hmong culture, the author was not evenhanded in her representation of the two cultures use and/or view of medicine. Hmong was always right, whereas when Western medicine did something right, her portrayal was to trivialize it and presented it almost as an afterthought. It felt as though she kept beating a dead horse. I would have been able to see the importance of using the multicultural approach to medicine she was promoting if this prejudice had been removed. But, it was an eye opener about the need to always keep culture at the foreground in any situation, especially medicine. Maybe it seemed like overkill since most people (most) that have lived in Hawaii for any length of time have been exposed and had to learn to respect these cultures in order to deal with them with any hopes of a positive outcome. An example of her down playing the Western medicine’s realities while emphasizing the rightness of the Hmong way was burying Lia’s placenta and later intimating that this might be the cause of all her problems. Where would the Lees have buried where loose animals would not have dug it up and without without violating a property owner’s land? And the potential smell! With an understanding of how important this is in their culture, the hospital could have given it to them in a jar and let them figure out what to do with it. The Lees could have kept it until someone in their clan owned land to bury it on. The author presents this as a problem caused by hospital and underplays the Lee’s responsibility of asking or demanding it. She sympathsizes with Foua for not having thought to ask for it, but does not show the same for the hospital’s lack of offering. If blame were to be assigned, as they do in the courts, I would give the Lee’s 98% of the blame and the hospital 2%. The Lees were old hands at having children and knowing what was needed. The author also blames the hospital, not the Lees for not giving Lia her medicine. I never felt she explained why she felt this way. It would be different if they gave her the wrong amounts, but to not give it to her at all was deliberate and a choice they made. And the author made light of the fact that the Lees ignored the admonishments that Lia was too heavy. The Lees actions in this one thing caused huge problems in trying to later intravenously administer life-saving drugs in time. These delays caused major damage to Lia’s oxygen starved brain. Anytime there was a clash of methods, the author always sides with the Lees, giving little credit to what the hospital staff was going through and when she does mention it, it’s with disdain. She does not present both sides fairly. 2. Why author included unfamiliar phrases? Hmong + medical
The author’s inclusion of many Hmong phrases helps the reader imagine them by putting a voice to their language and is a constant reminder of the culture they have had for hundreds of years. It also shows that we have some things in common, even though we call them by different names. Our psychologists or psychiatrist might be likened to their twix neeb. Using the American medical terms helps show the lack of understanding the Hmong must have had when being given information and what they viewed as advice, not orders.
3, What role has tumultuous history played in the formation of Hmong culture?
The Author uses the history of the Hmong to show many things about their nature including their stubbornness and their refusal to be dictated. This shows why although they went for help from the American practitioners, they did not view their advice as orders and even if they did, they always try to do what is right in their culture and for their families/clans. their long history of fighting to the death instead of being assimilated into any culture makes...
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